An objection to the nominating petition and cover sheets of the Friends of Westbury Party was filed with the village clerk earlier this month and, on Feb. 17, sent to the Nassau County Board of Elections for review. The objection, brought forth by Mayor Ernest Strada, Trustee Steve Corte and resident Bridget Zaino, questioned the validity of mayoral candidate Joe Masiello's residency as well as the legitimacy of the party's petition signatures.
In its objection, the village alleges that Masiello, at the time he filed his petitions, "incorrectly and falsely states two residence addresses ..." - one being a private home on Renison Drive and the other an apartment on Liberty Avenue. According to a sworn affidavit from the owner of the Renison Drive home, Masiello's stay at this location was temporary and terminated as of Jan. 18, 2009. Additionally, affidavits alleged that Masiello's vehicle was observed parked overnight from Feb.1 through Feb. 11 at his mother's Asbury Avenue West home, which is located in Carle Place. The testimonies were accompanied by photographs showing Masiello's vehicle parked outside the Asbury home.
Although the board of elections was split on Masiello's residency, with one of the two commissioners finding it questionable, it does not render decisions on residency matters. As a result, should the village wish to challenge the issue further, it would have to do so in court.
"We feel the petitions have certain defects and felt we had to take exception and have someone rule on them," said Mayor Ernest Strada. "We would have the right to challenge in court if we so chose to but the candidates have decided not to pursue it at this time ... Instead, we will leave it as it is and let the voters decide at the polls."
Additionally, the objection claimed that signatures on the Friends of Westbury Party petition sheets were invalid on one or more grounds including, but not limited to, illegible, unidentifiable, incorrect or no address; an alteration of date or signature; an incomplete date or lack of one; no first name; and/or signatures from residents who were either not registered or qualified to vote in a village election. The board of elections, however, determined that while there were invalid signatures, of the 277 submitted, the requirement of at least 100 had been met.
When contacted regarding the allegations, Masiello told The Westbury Times that he had "no comment whatsoever."
As of press time, Friends of Westbury Party mayoral candidate Masiello and his running mates, trustee candidates Lawrence Kirton and Lou Neziri, can remain on the March 18 ballot.